- Turkey’s president refuses to rule out death penalty
- Formal request for Fethullah Gulen’s extradition expected within days
“There is a clear crime of treason and your request can never be rejected by our government,” said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking through his translator in a world exclusive interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson at his presidential palace in Istanbul, Turkey.
“But of course it will take a parliamentary decision for that to take action in the form of a constitutional measure so leaders will have to get together and discuss it and if they accept to discuss it then I as president will approve any decision that comes out of the parliament.”
This is the first interview given by the president since the attempted military coup on Friday, July 15.
If Turkey does reintroduce the death penalty, it won’t be joining the European Union, according to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini earlier Monday.
Commenting on people’s calls for the death penalty for coup plotters, Erdogan said: “‘Why should I keep them and feed them in prisons, for years to come?’ — that’s what the people say.”
“They want a swift end to it, because people lost relatives, lost neighbors, lost children… they’re suffering so the people are very sensitive and we have to act very sensibly and sensitively,” he added.
The comments come in the wake of the president’s vow over the weekend that those responsible “will pay a heavy price for this act of treason.”
A total of 8,777 officers from the Turkish Ministry of Interior have so far been removed from office, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Among the arrested are 103 generals and admirals — a third of the general-rank command of the Turkish military.
Gulen extradition request submitted within days
A formal written request for the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in the United States, will be submitted within days, Erdogan told Anderson.
When asked what he would do if the U.S. refused to extradite Gulen, he said “we have a mutual agreement of extradition of criminals.”
“So now you ask someone to be extradited, you’re my strategic partner I do obey, I do abide by that, but you don’t do the same thing — well, of course, there should be reciprocity in the types of things,” the president continued.
Erdogan has previously blamed Gulen for the attempted coup — a claim which Gulen has denied.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. hadn’t yet received a formal request from Turkey for Gulen’s extradition.